The early Spörer Minimum – a period of extraordinary climate and socio-economic changes in Western and Central Europe
Chantal Camenisch1,2, Kathrin M. Keller1,3, Melanie Salvisberg1,2, Benjamin Amann1,4, Martin Bauch5, Sandro Blumer1,3, Rudolf Brázdil6,7, Stefan Brönnimann1,4, Ulf Büntgen1,7,8, Bruce M. S. Campbell9, Laura Fernández-Donado10, Dominik Fleitmann11, Rüdiger Glaser12, Fidel González-Rouco10, Martin Grosjean1,4, Richard C. Hoffmann13, Heli Huhtamaa1,2, Fortunat Joos1,3, Andrea Kiss14, Oldřich Kotyza15, Flavio Lehner16, Jürg Luterbacher17, Nicolas Maughan18, Raphael Neukom1,4, Theresa Novy19, Kathleen Pribyl20, Christoph C. Raible1,3, Dirk Riemann12, Maximilian Schuh21, Philip Slavin22, Johannes P. Werner23, and Oliver Wetter1,21Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland 2Economic, Social, and Environmental History, Institute of History, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland 3Climate and Environmental Physics, Physics Institute, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland 4Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland 5German Historical Institute in Rome, Rome, Italy 6Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic 7Global Change Research Institute , Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic 8Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland 9School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology, The Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Ireland 10Institute of Geosciences, University Complutense, Madrid, Spain 11Centre for Past Climate Change, University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading, UK 12Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography, University of Freiburg, Germany 13Department of History, York University, Toronto, Canada 14Institute of Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources Management, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, Austria 15Regional Museum, Litoměřice, Czech Republic 16Climate & Global Dynamics Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, USA 17Department of Geography, Climatology, Climate Dynamics and Climate Change, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany 18Aix - Marseille University, Marseille, France 19Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany 20University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK 21Heidelberg Center for the Environment, University of Heidelberg, Germany 22School of History, Rutherford College, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK 23Departme nt of Earth Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
Received: 11 Jan 2016 – Accepted: 07 Feb 2016 – Published: 12 Feb 2016
Abstract. Throughout the last millennium, mankind was affected by prolonged deviations from the climate mean state. While periods like the Maunder Minimum in the 17th century have been assessed in greater detail, earlier cold periods such as the 15th century received much less attention due to the sparse information available. Based on new evidence from different sources ranging from proxy archives to model simulations, it is now possible to provide an end-to-end assessment about the climate state during an exceptionally cold period in the 15th century, the role of internal, unforced climate variability and external forcing in shaping these extreme climatic conditions, and the impacts on and responses of the medieval society in Central Europe. Climate reconstructions from a multitude of natural and human archives indicate that, during winter, the period of the early Spörer Minimum (1431–1440 CE) was the coldest decade in Central Europe in the 15th century. The particularly cold winters and normal but wet summers resulted in a strong seasonal cycle that challenged food production and led to increasing food prices, a subsistence crisis, and a famine in parts of Europe. As a consequence, authorities implemented adaptation measures, such as the installation of grain storage capacities, in order to be prepared for future events. The 15th century is characterised by a grand solar minimum and enhanced volcanic activity, which both imply a reduction of seasonality. Climate model simulations show that periods with cold winters and strong seasonality are associated with internal climate variability rather than external forcing. Accordingly, it is hypothesised that the reconstructed extreme climatic conditions during this decade occurred by chance and in relation to the partly chaotic, internal variability within the climate system.
Camenisch, C., Keller, K. M., Salvisberg, M., Amann, B., Bauch, M., Blumer, S., Brázdil, R., Brönnimann, S., Büntgen, U., Campbell, B. M. S., Fernández-Donado, L., Fleitmann, D., Glaser, R., González-Rouco, F., Grosjean, M., Hoffmann, R. C., Huhtamaa, H., Joos, F., Kiss, A., Kotyza, O., Lehner, F., Luterbacher, J., Maughan, N., Neukom, R., Novy, T., Pribyl, K., Raible, C. C., Riemann, D., Schuh, M., Slavin, P., Werner, J. P., and Wetter, O.: The early Spörer Minimum – a period of extraordinary climate and socio-economic changes in Western and Central Europe, Clim. Past Discuss., doi:10.5194/cp-2016-7, in review, 2016.